The 9 questions to find out if you have the right IT service provider

1 September 2020
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There is no standardisation when it comes to IT service providers. ‘IT Support’, ‘IT Managed Service Provider (MSP)’ and ‘IT Outsourcing’ are terms that everyone’s familiar with, but every IT service provider has a different interpretation of them. 

What one company will term an MSP, another will call IT Support, and they will charge accordingly. Ultimately, every client has a different requirement which requires different levels of support. It is therefore important to ask the right questions in order to make sure you are getting the service you are expecting as well as the service you need. 

  1. What do we need? 

The first question is one you must ask yourself. What do you need as a company from your IT service provider? Are you looking to outsource an element of your in-house IT support in order to take advantage of economies of scale? For example, many organisations with their own IT department will outsource Helpdesk tasks, which allows their IT staff the time and resources to concentrate on strategic tasks. Alternatively, do you want to fully outsource all your IT functions and therefore need an external partner who will be proactive and guide you through your needs? If you want an MSP to help you achieve your business goals, you will be investing in their combined IT and business expertise and will expect them to be proactive in guiding you through what you need rather than waiting for your instruction.  

To identify the provider with a proactive mindset, you need to ask open questions in order to get more detail from them, find out how they operate as a business, and how mature their business is. 

  1. How will you help us achieve our goals? 

If you’ve established you want an organisation that will help you achieve your goals, ask them how they will do this. What you are looking for is answers that show they will take an interest in and have an understanding of your business and how it works – including what your business goals are and identifying the areas that need to be closely aligned with your IT in order to help you achieve those goals. For example, if you operate globally with a mobile workforce, you will need a flexible IT solution. They will also suggest regular business reviews to ensure they are on track. It is not about trying to fix problems quickly, it is about having a strategy – in the same way that an internal IT team would. So are they going to make those recommendations or wait for you to tell them what you want (even though you might not know what that is – to coin a phrase “you don’t know what you don’t know”)? 

  1. How do you train your staff? 

This is an important question because the answer will give you an indication of the mindset of the organisation and demonstrate its maturity level. If staff are rewarded well with high salaries and receive regular training around company and individual needs, they are more likely to have a mindset more closely aligned with your business. It demonstrates that they will identify specific requirements such as career goals, CPD structure and training budget, and will have a reward scheme based on performance, results etc. If there is a level of maturity in that model, it usually indicates investment-worthy proactive management, not a simple, reactive format. It is not about getting the cheapest provision, which usually means a reactive mindset and may not represent good value for your investment. 

  1. How quickly do you fix issues? 

You need to find out what their Service Level Agreements (SLAs) are and the penalties for missing them. It is therefore important to establish KPIs, such as how quickly they pick up tickets, and timescales for responding to them and resolving them. Simply asking questions about the team’s level of experience doesn’t give an indication of the maturity of the organisation, its growth and its knowledge base. Technical staff with a greater knowledge usually work at a higher level and are not working on the front-line Helpdesk, so you need to find out whether there are technicians at a lower level who will respond to tickets quickly and effectively. 

  1. How are your tickets prioritised? 

Most MSPs will prioritise tickets into different categories that reflect the work that will be needed in order to get things back up and running. Each category will therefore have a different SLA in order to manage expectations.

  1. Are you ITIL-aligned? 

ITIL is globally recognised for its IT service management best practice methodology. ITIL certification is a quality standard for MSPs which demonstrates they can provide guidance on supporting business goals and growth. Its framework has a detailed list of processes that an IT provider should be following in order to categorise and resolve issues. By sending staff on ITIL training courses, a MSP is investing in its team’s proactive mind-set and in creating good client relationships. 

  1. Do you have a self-service portal? 

Talking to a Helpdesk technician is not necessarily the best way to resolve an issue, and there are a number of issues that lend themselves to a self-service portal. A good example is the case of a password reset, which is a quick and simple request. It will probably take around 15 minutes for a user to log on, create a ticket and wait for it to be resolved. Through a self-service portal, this should only take a couple of minutes. If everyone in your company has to change their password once a month, the benefits to time and productivity are obvious. 

A self-service portal will also have information about ticket progress and service requests, as well as information about workflow and tracking, plans for future projects, etc. A good MSP will also have useful How To guides which can be especially helpful for new staff inductions. 

  1. How will you patch and maintain our systems? 

You need to find out if patches and maintenance will take place in or out of business hours. If your MSP is unwilling to work out of hours, this will result in downtime for your business. If routine work is always offered outside your working hours, this maximises the amount of time your staff can be productive. Again, it shows that the company is proactive and willing to invest in the service; they may well have invested in automated systems for maintenance scheduling. A provider that will only do routine maintenance during working hours in order to provide you with a cheaper service shows a potentially reactive mind-set.  

  1. What remote monitoring platform do you use?

An automated remote monitoring platform will alert your MSP to any issues as soon as they arise. This means that your provider can resolve a lot of IT issues before your staff even becomes aware of them, especially if the problem occurs overnight.

What our customers say

Lumina Technologies have taken the time to understand the requirements of our business and work as our strategic IT partner, enabling us to concentrate on delivering a high quality service to our clients and focus on our growth strategy. They have delivered a 100% cloud solution to our business with no underlying infrastructure costs or maintenance, which gives us scalability for our planned growth. It also means our business critical applications and data are securely accessible from virtually all our user devices. Lumina’s professional approach and strategic expertise is highly valued and their management of our IT – based on their in-depth knowledge, leaves us confident that our systems are available 24×7.

Luke Harrison, Keidan Harrison LLP

Lumina have supported us so well through the difficult circumstances of 2020.  They worked extremely hard to ensure we were able to work remotely and continue to operate our business successfully.The support team are very friendly and knowledgeable, and have excellent response times.

The team have also enhanced our cyber security which is so important in the legal sector, and they continue to provide high quality advice to help us move forward with our IT goals.

Adams & Remers

The quality of IT Support provided by Lumina Technology is of the highest standard and is complemented by effective client liaison with impressive response times. Trap Oil Group plc has no hesitation in recommending Lumina as a dedicated and specialist group of IT professionals.

Martin David
Technical Director, Trap Oil Group plc

Richard and his team are a real inspiration to anyone who meets them and I have watched Lumina’s growth over the last few years with interest and admiration. Richard has been an amazing supporter of the Hospice of St Francis, being a Gold member of the Corporate Partner Network for almost two years. He takes an active interest in the community and is passionate about his company and his town: nothing is too much trouble, he is always willing to help, to give up his time and to provide business advice when asked. Lumina is an inspiration to any company wanting to set up business in Hertfordshire.

Carolyn Addison
Corporate Fundraising Manager, The Hospice of St Francis

Lumina Technologies Prism Hosted Desktop has allowed our business to centralise our global corporate data, allowing much faster access for all our staff – regardless of their location. We have also been able to simplify and reduce our infrastructure and management overhead. With the new Prism Hosted Desktop solution all staff now have simple and secure access to corporate data using any device they choose. Prism Hosted Desktop has increased the productivity of our staff and given us a single, consistent and familiar experience for all users from any device, in any location, 24/7.

Katherine Roe
Chief Executive Officer, Wentworth Resources PLC

The commercially sensitive and regulated nature of Lambert Energy Advisory’s business requires an IT provider able to maintain the highest levels of integrity and confidentiality, Lumina Technologies has consistently been unimpeachable in this regard over the nine years we have employed them.

Patrick Agar
Lambert Energy Advisory

It has been a great pleasure working with Lumina Technologies over the past two years. They have fully committed to being involved in the local community with volunteering and with professional advice and commitment, helping many local charities along the way. As a growing company it proves that being involved in the local community is helping them attract and retain a talented workforce and I look forward to working with them well into the future.

Cindy Withey
Connect Dacorum

Hawkstone Management Services Ltd is a small company for which IT Outsourcing is realistically the only viable option. Lumina Technologies have successfully performed this role for over fifteen years. They also provide innovative solutions to keep pace with technological progress. I would have no hesitation in recommending Lumina to similar sized businesses.

Stephen Pembury
Hawkstone Management Services Ltd

Charles Douglas Solicitors LLP have been using Lumina Technologies for a number of years now and continue to be impressed by the technical know-how and contemporary knowledge of their senior management, who provide a timely, efficient and friendly service. Whether it is a small issue with one computer, or a strategic IT decision, they maintain a current knowledge of available technologies. Lumina are always at the other end of the phone to help resolve issues and minimise business interference. The technical knowledge of Richard and his senior team means that there has not been a problem that they can’t solve to date. I am sure we will continue to use them in the years to come.

Charles Douglas
Managing Partner, Charles Douglas Solicitors LLP

The team at Lumina Technologies have made the Amoun Travel & Tours office IT transition seamless and problem free. The office set-up has been vastly improved and the IT Support services are flawless. No issue goes unresolved, which is extremely reassuring.

Adam Helmy
Amoun Travel & Tours Ltd

Lumina Technologies has been Salamander Energy plc’s IT provider since start-up in 2005 and has supported us in London during our expansion across operational offices in SE Asia. Their professional approach, strategic advice and close co-operation have been essential in making this a success.

John Bell
Group Technical Director, Salamander Energy plc

Richard and his team at Lumina have provided Perrett Laver Limited with high quality strategic and practical IT Services for over ten years. During this period, Perrett Laver has grown from 10+ colleagues based in London to nearly 100 colleagues located in six offices across the Americas, EMEA and Asia-Pacific. Richard and the Lumina team have not just been responsive to our ‘everyday’ IT needs, but have proactively sought to work with us on developing an infrastructure suitable for the type of operation we are today, and are planning to be months and years down the line. I would not hesitate to recommend Richard, especially for small to medium size business with growth in mind.

Clementine McKinley
COO, Perrett Laver Limited

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Society Limited has been supported by Lumina Technologies since our earliest start-up phase. From large logistical challenges like an office move, through to smaller fiddly issues like fixing a faulty e-template, we know we can count on their support and advice. They’ve also been able to engage with us strategically on the challenge of scaling-up our infrastructure as the firm continues to grow and evolve. We always feel confident going to Lumina with a problem, since we know they genuinely care about sorting things out and helping us to get on with our core business.

Simon Lucas
Managing Director, Society Limited

The Vita Group HQ staff have worked with Richard McBarnet and Lumina Technologies for over 9 years, with Lumina providing all our PC, server, phone, and software support. The services have included C-level executives based in London, Manchester, the US, as well as supporting home office IT as well. The service provided and intellectual capabilities are outstanding and we would highly recommend Richard and his Lumina team.

Joe Menendez
CEO, The Vita Group

We worked with Lumina on a GDPR Audit. Richard was knowledgeable and professional throughout, and did the best he could to bring a dry topic to life through lots of real life examples and analogies. We were so impressed with the service Lumina provided and the value we got from partnering with them on this project – we couldn’t recommend them enough.

Holly Cottingham, Vintec Laboratories

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